Rand’s favorite method of dealing with this issue is to try to convince herself and her followers that the men of force don’t constitute that much of a threat. Consider the following argument:
The men who attempt to survive, not by means of reason, but by means of force, are attempting to survive by the method of animals. But just as animals would not be able to survive by attempting the method of plants, by rejecting locomotion and waiting for the soil to feed them —so men cannot survive by attempting the method of animals, by rejecting reason and counting on productive men to serve as their prey. Such looters may achieve their goals for the range of a moment, at the price of destruction: the destruction of their victims and their own. As evidence, I offer you any criminal or any dictatorship.
This is a typical appeal-to-sentiment argument, no different, in form, then what one would find in a religious sermon or a humanitarian tract. Rand suggests, without explicitly saying so, that men of force can only achieve their goals “for the range of a moment, at the price of [their] destruction.” Yet what exactly is she saying? That marauders only succeed for a few moments and then die? But that clearly isn’t so. And what are we to make of Rand’s “evidence” of “any criminal or any dictatorship”? Since there are many examples of criminals and dictators who succeeded for decades (can a decade qualify as “range of the moment”?), Rand’s evidence, far from proving her case, in fact undermines it.
Another favorite ploy of Rand in relation issue is her notion of the “sanction of the victim,” “The ‘sanction of the victim’ is the willingness of the good to suffer at the hands of the evil, to accept the role of sacrificial victim for the ‘sin’ of creating values,” writes Peikoff. “If some men attempt to survive by means of brute force or fraud, by looting, robbing, cheating or enslaving the men who produce, it still remains true that their survival is made possible only by their victims, only by the men who choose to think and to produce the goods which they, the looters, are seizing,” wrote Rand. An underlying implication of this view is that the one of the reasons why men of force have succeeded throughout history in looting the producing class is because producers have “sanctioned” the looting (by accepting the premises of altruism). If the producers would only withdraw this sanction and “fight” for their values, things could be different.
However, it matters little whether the producers condemn looting if they are not also good at fighting for their property. Unfortunately, the skills that go to making an excellent businessmen tend to be different from the skills that go into making an excellent warrior. Businessmen tend to be foxes, not lions; and as a business-driven society becomes wealthier and wealthier, manners soften and the will to fight weakens. Rand’s so-called “sanction of the victim” may be little more than a rationalization of cowardice made by individuals lacking the stomach or the ability to fight for what is theirs.
Another tendency in Rand’s thought regarding this issue is her view that these men of force are mere bullies who “feed on appeasement” and would “retreat placatingly at the first sound of firm opposition.” (Los Angeles Times, Nov. 11, 1962) While it is true that men of force “feed on appeasement,” it is not true that they can be counted on to retreat if they are firmly opposed. Neither Hitler nor Saddam Hussein retreated at the first sound of firm opposition, but kept fighting to the bitter end, even when the odds were greatly against them. Some of these men of force are obsessed with saving face, and would rather die then back down. This may not be a problem if these individuals can be conquered and defeated by overwhelming force; but what happens when this is no longer the case? What happens when these violent men with a mania for saving face get their hands of WMDs? What then?
The man of force cannot be so easily dismissed or explained away as he is by Rand. His collection of personality traits constitute a direct threat to Rand’s political ideals. Rand and her followers have not only failed to present a solution to the problem of man of force, they don’t seem to fully comprehend the seriousness of the threat.
The men of force could always form their own companies and hire out their services to private businesses or governments. Allan Pinkerton did that successfully in the 19th Century when he started the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, and we see similar businesses today called private military companies (for example, Xe Services LLC, formerly known as Blackwater).
Of course, the fact that some businesses advertise their services to other businesses as men with guns for hire (euphemistically called "security") pretty much destroys the libertarian claim that only states can threaten people with guns to get their way while businesses can't.
Aren't you implying a distinction between the initation of force and the threat to initiate force? Do you think the latter should be allowed even if the former isn't?
Mark Plus: "The men of force could always form their own companies and hire out their services to private businesses or governments."
In other words, mercenaries. It used to be quite common for states (usually states governed by merchants, such as Italien city states of the renaissance) to hire mercenaries. Machiavelli did not trust mercenaries as a fighting force, since they were fighting for pecuniary, rather than patriotic, motives. Moreover, a mercenary army could always turn its guns on its employers. What then?
Because of modern technology, mercenary armies are no longer of much significance, except in the third world, where technology is at a premium. Many of the weapons of modern of warfare are too costly for private mercenaries.
That's not what TV shows like 24, where mercenaries are by and large the villains, would like people to believe. But in any case, it is TV :).
Is Galt implying that governments cannot morally rely on any preemptive strikes against other nations seeking to attack them?
As a businessman myself (albeit a young one), I can attest to this being largely true. Most businessmen I've dealt with are resentful of high taxes but not so much as to stage high-spirited campaigns and activism against it. Rather they focus on how to shelter that income (be it offshore or domestically via retirement accounts/municipal investments.) Others, particularly lately, have told me that they plan on keeping their income below $250,000 so as to avoid Obama's tax hike.
That's about the extent of it, though. When I was 17 I dreamed of someday fighting the evil looters in government but nowadays I'm more about making money for myself and keeping as much as I can without getting into trouble. Life is too short.
Another tendency in Rand’s thought regarding this issue is her view that these men of force are mere bullies who “feed on appeasement” and would “retreat placatingly at the first sound of firm opposition.”
That was a reference to the Russians, and Reagan proved her right.
Agree with Cavewright on that. While not all men of force retreat when challenged (sociopaths come to mind), the weaker among them often will.
It's a pity that Putin didn't get the memo that Reagan stood up to Russia.
Jay wrote: Agree with Cavewright on that. While not all men of force retreat when challenged (sociopaths come to mind), the weaker among them often will.
I'm not saying that about the weaker ones (the USSR was weak?), only about the ones that "feed off of appeasement."
Cavewight: "That was a reference to the Russians, and Reagan proved her right."
Well, that's the predominant view in America, but it is not, curiously enough, the predominant view of high ranking KGB and military intelligence defectors from Russia itself. Keep in mind, Russia was not defeated or vanquished; all that happened is that the KGB and the military let the communist party be overthrown. The KGB, in other words, merely accomplished what Beria had failed at following the death of Stalin: they became the predominant power in Russia. It was a bit of a setback, because they ended up losing a lot of influence in eastern Europe and many of the old Soviet republics; but they are reasserting their power in those areas now and with their building a very formidable alliance against the United States, with China, Iran, Venueazla, Cuba, etc. In other words, Russia still remains a threat to the U.S., and the cold war continues, except that the parties pretend that no such conflict is taking place. The U.S. still has not withdrawn troops from western Europe. Why is that? What are we afraid of? The Russians meanwhile are helping Iran build a nuclear weapon (and they may be doing the same with North Korea). So while it is good policy of Reagan to stand up to the Russians, the fact that he did so hardly removed the threat they pose to the United States.
I didn't say that Reagan "removed the threat" the Russians posed. They suffered economic problems in the 1970s, and the loss in Afghanistan, aided by the US, decreased Soviet morale. Gorby sought to reform elements of the Soviet system but found that the changes he desired to make were integral to the system itself. Reagan's continual push for internal Soviet reform ("tear down this wall!") helped to hasten the end of the old Soviet system. They were also out-powered by Reagan's push to increase US military might, which included the threat of the SDI that the Soviets could not afford to keep ahead of. The rhetorical defense of calling Reagan a "warmonger" and such did nothing to obviate his influence.
The US won the Cold War without firing a single bullet against the Soviets. The grounds for this victory were two-pronged: the Soviet system was inherently weak, and the American system is inherently strong. It only required an American president like Reagan to recognize that their weakness was not a happenstance, but the result of great evil which he would never appease or compromise with.
Greg wrote: Russia still remains a threat to the U.S., and the cold war continues, except that the parties pretend that no such conflict is taking place.
Nonsense, pure and simple.
Greg wrote: "Russia still remains a threat to the U.S., and the cold war continues, except that the parties pretend that no such conflict is taking place."
Cavewight: "Nonsense, pure and simple."
Where is your evidence for this assertion? That Russia remains a threat is well documented by those in the best position to know, namely, intelligence defectors from Russia. Here's just a sample:
Here's an article about a former Defense Secretary that requires you to read between the lines.
Greg wrote: Where is your evidence for this assertion? That Russia remains a threat is well documented by those in the best position to know,
My evidence is the fact that the COLD WAR is over, it ended at the end of 1991 with the collapse of Soviet Russia.
Am I denying that these Russkies can't continue to make trouble for us? I never made such an assertion. However, the basis of the Cold War was the prevention of Soviet world domination. With the collapse of the Soviet empire and the creation of satellite states within the old Soviet Union the Cold War ceased to exist.
Next you're going to claim that the US never landed men on the moon.
"The Cold War (1945-91) was the continuing state of political conflict, military tension, and economic competition existing after World War II (1939-45), between the USSR and its satellite states, and the powers of the Western world, led by the United States. Although the primary participants' military forces never officially clashed directly, they expressed the conflict through military coalitions, strategic conventional force deployments, a nuclear arms race, espionage, proxy wars, propaganda, and technological competition, e.g. the space race."
Greg wrote:Russia still remains a threat to the U.S., and the cold war continues...
All but one of those links you provided states that the Cold War is an event from history. Now if you want to talk about a "cold war" heating up again, that's another event, it is not a continuation.
http://www.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=29472 This link you provided refers to a new cold war, not a continuation of an old cold war.
http://www.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=35568 This link says nothing about a cold war.
http://www.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=30285 This link says nothing about a cold war.
This link says "new" cold war, not the continuation of an old cold war.
http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2000_hr/hr_012400.htm The document at this link says we are in a POST-COLD WAR ERA.
http://www.rferl.org/content/Interview_New_Cold_War/1194282.html The article at this page asks if this is a new cold war, not a continuation of the old one.
http://www.terroristplanet.com/usmissileshield.htm This link talks about a return to the cold war era.
http://www.cnn.com/chat/transcripts/2001/02/20/lunev/ This link talks about events which transpired after the "end of the cold war."
http://www.autentico.org/oa09612.php This links to an older page from 2002 which references the cold war at one point.
http://www.financialsense.com/stormwatch/geo/pastanalysis/2009/0724.html This page, strangely enough, was written by someone named J.R. Nyquist, host of "outside the Box" radio show.
And xtra wrote: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124726489588925407.html This page contains the quote "Yes, the Cold War has ended..."
If Russia is still trying to either cripple or destroy the United States; if they have never stopped trying to accomplish that end: in that case, the cold war, at least from their perspective, has in fact not ended. You can talk all you like about the Soviet Union "collapsing," but the KGB didn't collapse, the Soviet army collapse. And yet these were the forces fighting the cold war! And indeed, there are number of defectors, starting with Golitsyn, who believe that the collapse was staged by the KGB to get the west to disarm. The point is that high ranking Russian military intelligence and KGB/FSB people don't believe that the cold war ended for Russia; and they are in better position to judge on the issue than either you or I. Could they perhaps be wrong? Maybe. You and I are hardly in a position to judge. After all, when was the last time you received an intelligence briefing from the CIA or the NSA (not to mention the FSB or the GRU)? So the view that Russia remains a threat and the cold war continues can hardly be dismissed as "nonsense, pure and simple." Individuals in a much better position to judge this question believe that cold war continues, and they at least deserve to be given a fair hearing.
Part of the confusion is that the Cold War is seen as a battle between socialism/communism and capitalism/corporatism and since Russia, China and other big communist countries have liberalized their economies, people think that the Cold War is over. If that is what you mean, I agree.
If you define the Cold War in terms of national pride, competition and conflict, and not in terms of ideological differences, the Cold War is far from over. Russia is still in various ways an enemy of the US.
Greg wrote: After all, when was the last time you received an intelligence briefing from the CIA or the NSA (not to mention the FSB or the GRU)?
I could ask you the same question. It's called "argument ad ignorantium."
Xtra wrote: If you define the Cold War in terms of national pride, competition and conflict, and not in terms of ideological differences, the Cold War is far from over. Russia is still in various ways an enemy of the US.
In that case, perhaps the cold war began before the cold war is said to have begun.
I never thought the US and Russia were allies even though they fought together in the first Gulf War. I predicted in 1991 that the end of the cold war would bring instability, chaos, and finally, a new threat would emerge. I just didn't know what the threat would be at the time. Nobody did.
I don't think you will ever separate in people's minds the Cold War (capital letters) from those factors you mentioned re communism/capitalism. The Cold War is strongly associated with specific events and especially a specific ideological conflict. If the US went back into Vietnam perhaps some people would say the Vietnam War never ended. And in a sense the Korean War never ended but settled into a Hot Peace which could explode into war at any minute.
We can all thank George for his saber-rattling about the "axis of evil" early in his administration post-911. But the most you can call the present situation is, perhaps, the beginning of Cold War II, not a continuation of a war that ended in 1991, even if a few of the players on the Russian side are the same. Bring back the old Soviet style system along with all the old aggressive world-dominating tendencies and I wouldn't object to calling it Cold War II. If Putin manages to revive the old Soviet Union then, yes. But he has internal problems of his own to deal with.
Greg did post some interesting links, even if only one of them (the author of which had the same last name, interestingly enough) actually supported his position. But if the Russians can be brought down once, they can be brought down again, using the same tactics: deprive them of oil money, keep their economy low, prevent an arms build-up, and talk tough at the negotiation table.
I cede that the Cold War is over.
The point here is the Cold War is not over because the Russians were being appeased and finally faced and were defeated by some opposition.
The point here is that the Cold War is over because its defining characteristics are gone, but the men of force have not retreated - it is still a kind of War.
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